Groundbreaking partnership in disability studies
May 7, 2015
The King Salman Center for Disability Research in Saudi Arabia and Syracuse University recently signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), designed to further the objectives outlined within the King Salman National Program for Learning Disabilities, and to undertake related, vital initiatives. Dr. Sultan T. Al-Sedairy, executive managing director of the King Salman Center for Disability Research; James O’Connor, executive director of Middle East advancement and external affairs; and Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost Liz Liddy were joint signatories to the agreements.
As detailed in the MoU, Syracuse University and the King Salman Center for Disability Research will pursue joint educational, training and research activities; implement an expert lecture series; explore faculty, researcher and student exchanges; and identify and commence joint opportunities as defined within the King Salman National Program for Learning Disabilities.
The objectives of this collaboration will yield vital developments in pedagogy for students with learning disabilities in Saudi Arabia, ensuring that the most cutting-edge advances in educational strategy are introduced in Riyadh, the Kingdom and, ultimately, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and beyond.
By bringing renowned experts in learning disabilities to Riyadh in order to present lectures and workshops, the MoU will deliver best practices and innovations in pedagogy, technology, engineering, policy and law, and related realms to educators, policy makers, clinicians and others within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Through the exchange of faculty, researchers and students, the MoU will support advances in cross-cultural understandings, establishing a locus for a shared commitment to ensuring people with disabilities enjoy the opportunities and life fulfillment that must be available to all humanity.
Dr. Sultan T. Al-Sedairy notes, “This new relationship represents a bright light of innovation and global cooperation that will illuminate countless opportunities for our brothers and sisters who struggle with the daily challenge of living with disabilities."
Syracuse University is extraordinarily proud that His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman, co-founder and chairman of the board of the King Salman Center for Disability Research, is an alumnus of the University, says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “We are honored that he has encouraged this global collaboration, and we are committed, through this effort, to ensuring that individuals with disabilities are provided with every opportunity to achieve their greatest potential.”
Syracuse University has a long history of disability research and advocacy, beginning with the founding of the Center on Human Policy in 1971. Founded as the nation’s first university-based disability research and advocacy center, this legacy continues with the University-wide Disability Studies Program, which includes a Ph.D. program, master’s program and undergraduate minor in disability studies. The College of Law’s Disability Law and Policy Program is home to the nation’s first joint degree in law and disability studies, as well as a curricular program, a Disability Rights Clinic and a concentration in international and comparative disability law for foreign trained lawyers enrolled in the L.L.M. Program at the College of Law. The School of Education houses one of the most highly respected programs in inclusive education, as well as the Taishoff Center on Inclusive Higher Education and The Institute on Communication and Inclusion.
The King Salman Center for Disability Research [KSCDR] was founded by His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. King Salman established this critical resource within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to address the vital needs of persons with disabilities and their families, and to create cutting-edge international models for disability research, education and support services.
Under the leadership of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, co-founder and chairman of the board, and secretary-general of the Supreme Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, KSCDR annually pursues a broad range of research, professional development, awareness, advocacy and policy initiatives.
A new, expansive five-year strategy is outlined within the King Salman National Program for Learning Disabilities, which is expected to include the development of a normed Arabic-language diagnostic battery; training programs for educators; an ongoing transition to university program for students with learning disabilities; a national, electronic job board and workforce development training program for individuals with disabilities; a college for students with learning disabilities constructed on the Beacon College model; and a juried bilingual journal of applied research in learning disabilities. The overall strategy was conceptualized by Brent Betit, an international expert on learning disabilities and member of KSCDR’s senior staff, assisted by the KSCDR expert team.
While valuing and aggressively pursuing high-quality empirical research, KSCDR’s leadership possesses the greatest esteem for applied research, and the application of innovative strategies and best practices that change the lives of people with disabilities today. Through the promotion, conduct and support of scientific research and the application of new knowledge to the benefit of persons with disabilities and their families, KSCDR will accomplish its objective to foster and support science that benefits people.